The second highest number of reports of intentional harm to wildlife last year occurred in Kent, according to figures from the RSPCA.
RSPCA data shows that wild mammals and birds bore the brunt of the abuse across a five-year period from 2016 to 2020.
The number of cruelty incidents relating to wild mammals totalled 4,383, with wild birds persecuted in even greater numbers, at 5,049.
The figures reveal that deliberate cruelty to wildlife is its highest during the summer months.
In 2020, 376 wild animals were reported to have been intentionally harmed across the lockdown months of June to August.
In 2020, the five areas which topped the list with the highest number of wildlife abuse reports were:
Greater London (101)Kent (37)West Midlands (36)Greater Manchester (35)West Yorkshire (30)
RSPCA Head of Wildlife Adam Grogan said: “We say we’re a nation of animal-lovers and yet every year, we see wild animals in our wildlife centres and animal hospitals that have been badly injured or killed by being beaten, mutilated, poisoned, or shot for ‘fun’.
“Our data shows that reports of cruelty to wildlife surged over last summer. Police forces reported a rise in anti-social behaviour during that first lockdown, when pressures and frustrations may have led to more of this type of crime, leading to some seeking ‘entertainment’ through these sorts of barbaric incidents involving wildlife."
Recently, RSPCA officers dealt with foxes being deliberately trapped and kept (bagged) then let loose to be hunted by dogs in Kent.
The RSPCA’s Cancel Out Cruelty campaign aims to raise funds to keep its rescue teams on the frontline saving animals in need of help as well as raise awareness to stamp out cruelty for good.